A fool utters all his mind, but a wise man keeps it in until afterwards. Proverbs 29:11
To answer before listening— that is folly and shame Proverbs 18:13
In these days of political and social controversies, it is tempting for all of us to simply unload our opinions, and try to convince one another of the truth of our position. Strongly held beliefs will do that to us, and there is, of course, nothing wrong with strongly held beliefs. There is also nothing wrong with expressing those beliefs. The problem comes in when our emotions get hooked, and we begin to let those emotions overcome our cognitive functions.
Our need to convince others is strong. It gets in the way of hearing the ideas of others. We are so focused on getting our point across that we fail to listen well. Our attention is consumed with formulating our next point, our refutation, so that we do not fully hear another point of view.
Once, when I needed to terminate the services of someone I supervised, I agonized over using just the right words to let this person know that they were being terminated. At that moment, I think I heard the voice of God in my head say, “Don’t try to use the perfect words. Nothing you say will convince this person that being fired is a good thing. Just speak your truth in love and let me do the rest.”
That was truth. I simply needed to speak the truth in love, and let God do the convincing in his time. It worked out well- but not immediately. It took time, but just some months later, that person told me that the firing was a relief, and there was a better plan for her life.
The point here is that my best efforts will not likely convince someone else of my truth. Speaking what I believe is a good thing. Trying to force that belief on someone else just does not seem to work well most of the time.
So, we speak our truth, we let go, listen well, and let peace reign.
Prayer: Father, give us the discipline to listen well, speak our truth in love, and let go of the outcome, Amen.